|Headquarters||Beltsville, Maryland, United States|
|Peter Granat, CEO|
|Products||Marketing and public relations software & services|
|Revenue||US$186.9 million (2013)|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references
Vocus is a public relations software company based in Beltsville, Maryland, United States, serving clients worldwide. In addition to its web-based PR software suites, the company owns the online publicity services, PRWeb and Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Vocus was founded in 1992 by Rick Rudman and Bob Lentz and was a publicly held company until June 2014 when it was taken private by Chicago based private equity company GTCR. The company operates additional offices in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Products and services
Vocus provides public relations services to businesses, using a cloud-based, or software as a service (SaaS) model. The company helps businesses maximize their PR efforts through social media monitoring and engagement and media publicity services.
Vocus' software is distributed in seven languages. As of June 2014[update], it is used by more than 16,000 annual subscribers worldwide, including commercial businesses and governmental, educational and non-profit organizations.
The company offers three web-based packages: the "Vocus Marketing Suite", the "Public Relations Suite" and a "Government Relations Suite". The Vocus "Public Relations Suite" allows users to distribute press releases, access a database of bloggers and journalists, and monitor and analyze news and social media sites. The company's "Government Relations Suite" manages government contacts and analyzes lobbying activity.
Since 2006, Vocus has expanded its services through a series of acquisitions, including PRWeb, HARO, North Social and iContact, which Vocus has continued to operate under the existing brand names. Vocus also offers consulting services to support the use of its software products.
PRWeb is an online press release service. Press releases published by PRWeb are distributed through news sites and appear in search engine results, allowing businesses to distribute news directly to the mass media and customers. PRWeb services are available through the "Vocus Marketing Suite," the "Vocus PR Suite" or as a separate service.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online service designed to help journalists locate and connect with sources for stories. Originally created as a Facebook group in 2008, HARO quickly outgrew the platform, and now operates through its own website and daily newsletter Help a Reporter Out services are available through the "Vocus Marketing Suite" or as a separate service.
North Social, a social media marketing company, designs customizable apps for businesses to manage and promote their company's presence on Facebook. Its services allow users to customize Facebook pages, integrate services from other websites and organize giveaways. Now an antiquated technology, the Facebook applications from North Social are no longer available as of April 2014. Vocus offers customized landing pages in their place, available through the "Vocus Marketing Suite."
iContact, an email marketing software company, designs software to help small and medium-sized businesses manage email, Facebook and Twitter campaigns. iContact's services are available through the "Vocus Marketing Suite" or as a separate service.
History and acquisitions
Vocus Inc. was founded in 1992 by chief executive officer Rick Rudman and his business partner, Bob Lentz. The two had previously been investors at First Data Software Publishing, which they co-founded in 1991 to develop software supporting political organizations' external communications. Rudman and Lentz bought out the firm's other two partners and quit their jobs to relaunch the company as Vocus.
In its early years, Vocus developed software to help political action committees and grassroots organizations track and organize donors and contacts. In 1997, the company expanded its services to offer public relations software, including a product developed specifically for clients outside of the political sector, to help them manage external communications. In 1999, Vocus discontinued the use of packaged software products, choosing instead to offer its software over the Internet.
During the 2000s, the company continued to expand its public relations services. In October 2002, Vocus announced the release of its application programming interface (API), built using Microsoft XML, which allowed companies to integrate Vocus software with other business productivity applications.
In 2005, Vocus held its initial public offering, selling 5 million shares of stock and raising a total of $45 million. The same year, Vocus was ranked number 50 on Washington Business Journal's list of the fastest growing companies, after its revenue grew 32.5% from 2004 to 2005.
Vocus purchased PRWeb, the press release service, in August 2006 for $28 million in cash and stock. The acquisition allowed Vocus customers to access PRWeb's online press release distribution services. The following year, in 2007, Vocus established a partnership with the Associated Press, allowing Vocus users to distribute press releases within the AP network.
The company continued to expand through acquisitions from 2010 onward. In 2010, Vocus acquired two software companies offering public relations services similar to Vocus': the French company Datapresse and the Chinese company BDL Media. The same year, the company also acquired the online service Help a Reporter Out (HARO). In February 2011, Vocus announced it had acquired two social media marketing companies, Engine 140, which develops marketing software for use with Twitter, and North Social, developer of Facebook customization software. In 2012, Vocus acquired the email marketing software company, iContact, for $169 million in cash and stock.
Vocus holds an annual users conference. In 2013, the conference was opened up to all industry communication professionals. The "Demand Success" 2013 conference took place June 20 and 21, 2013 and featured keynote speakers Arianna Huffington and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). The "Demand Success" 2014 conference took place June 5 and 6, 2013 and featured keynote speakers Randi Zuckerberg, Adrian Grenier and Judy Smith.
The company headquarters are in Beltsville, Maryland. In the United States, Vocus also operates offices in College Park, Maryland; Herndon and Reston, Virginia and Ferndale, Washington. The company's international headquarters are located in London. As of October 2012, the company employed 1,200 people worldwide, 700 of whom are located in Beltsville.
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